Eliane Elias – Music From Man Of La Mancha – Concord Records 

by | Jun 6, 2018 | Jazz CD Reviews

The promise of a long buried project is now fulfilled

Eliane Elias – Music From Man Of La Mancha – Concord Records CJA00099 53:25****:

If the old advertising slogan “good things come to those that wait” is to be believed, then the Eliane Elias release Music From The Man Of La Mancha gives credence to that idea. Originally recorded in 1995, it is only being released now due to prior unresolved contractual problems. The material stems from the 1965 Broadway production of Man From La Mancha with the music composed by Mitch Leigh. The original source material was two fold: firstly a 1959 teleplay entitled I, Don Quixote which in turn was informed by the Seventeenth Century work by Miguel de Cervantes called Don Quixote.

The sessions were put together by two high intensity Elias lead trios along with percussionist Manolo Badrena on eight of the nine tracks. There are no vocals on this release.  Given that Broadway musicals are structured form that do not readily lend themselves to a jazz interpretation, only a few albums by jazz artists come readily to mind: Miles Davis-Porgy and Bess; Oscar Peterson-West Side Story; and Eddie Costa-Guys and Dolls. 

When this session was recorded in 1995, Elias had been in New York City for fourteen years and had established a solid reputation for herself from jazz critics, as well as acknowledgements through Grammy nominations and a Downbeat Reader Poll recognition. Nevertheless, this project was risky as the libretto for the musical did not produce in a multitude of easily recognizable tunes. The two-first cuts of the album “To Each His Dulcinea” and “Dulcinea” revolve the word Dulcinea which in Spanish at the time of Don Quixote meant sweetness but in terms of the play refers to the character Dulcinea. Musically there is no connection between the two numbers, as the former is a Brazilian/Latin rhythm filled number full of dense chords, while the latter is a lovely ballad with Elias’ light touch showing lots of range, with Eddie Gomez’ bass  both expressive and profuse.

“What Does He Want Of Me” is pure bossa nova and acts as an evocative vessel for a full exploration of the keyboard by Elias, with richly configured interplay between Gomez and DeJohnette. On “I’m Only Thinking Of Him” there is a brawny quality that propels the number forward as Elias delves into a range of propulsive configurations and harmonic textures. Gomez and DeJohnette continue on their mind meld of coherent inventiveness.

The title of the musical “Man Of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)” is offered in a Latin three/four time signature with Eddie Gomez’s bass pulsating in the background as drummer Jack DeJohnette takes over for an extended solo filled with impressive authority. Elias is never less than inventive and broad ranging in her efforts.

The show’s signature hit “The Impossible Dream” is throbbing samba that Elias re-imagines with a variety of propulsive structures coupled with key changes and rapid inflections. Bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Satoshi Takeishi more than keep pace with the resulting harmonic interactions.

The promise of a long buried project is now fulfilled.

TrackList:
To Each His Dulcinea; Dulcinea; What Does He Want Of Me; The Barber’s Song; It’s All The Same; I’m Only Thinking Of Him; Man Of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote); The Impossible Dream; A Little Gossip

Performing Artists:
Eliane Elias – piano; Eddie Gomez – bass #2,3, 5, 6, 7; Jack DeJohnette – drums #2, 3, 5, 6, 7; Marc Johnson – bass #1,4,8,9; Satoshi Takeishi – drums # 1,4,8,9; Manolo Badrena – percussion # 1-4, 6-9

—Pierre Giroux

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